Archive | literature

2014: What I read

As usual, here is the list of books I finished last year. It’s a pretty mixed list. 2014 was a hard and stressful year, which made me turn to books to keep myself sane. When life becomes a little bit too much books are the only thing that allow me to lose myself for a while, not even watching films will do. Overall I’m really happy with this list. There’s a bit of everything that matters to me; some guilty pleasures, some easy reads, some classics, some Nazi stuff, music, films… I think it’s a good mix. I had a great time, I learnt, I laughed, I cried, I shuddered and I wish some of those books never ended. 2014 was also the first year when I could read a book in German without constantly thinking “oh man, I’m reading in German!” or looking up words, which makes me feel really great. I read a couple more that I had to give up due to boredom, so overall I spent a good while reading in German, who would’ve thought.

If you are curious you can check out what I read in 2008, what I read in 2009, what I read in 2010 and what I read in 2013.


Angelou, Maya – Gather Together in My Name

Anger, Kenneth – Hollywood Babylon

Arfin, Lesley – Dear Diary

Ashdown, Isabel – Summer of ’76

Bolaño, Roberto – La Pista de Hielo

Boyd, William – Waiting for Sunrise

Bryan, Helen – War Brides

Burroughs, Augusten – Dry

Bynner, John – Twenty-something in the 1990s: Getting On, Getting By, Getting Nowhere

de Cervantes, Miguel – El Licenciado Vidriera

Christie, Agatha – And Then There Were None

Christie, Agatha – Peril at End House

Christie, Agatha – The ABC Murders

Christie, Agatha – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Crott, Randi – Erzähl es niemandem! Die Liebesgesichte meiner Eltern

Dahl, Roald – Matilda

Dickens, Charles – Little Dorrit

Erikson, Erik – Identity and the Life Cycle

Eugenides, Jeffrey – The Marriage Plot

Eyre, Pilar – La Soledad de la Reina Sofía

Feig, Paul  – Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence

Fiske, John – Understanding Popular Culture

Flynn, Gillian – Gone Girl

Forrester, Helen – Liverpool Daisy

Gaskell, Elizabeth – North and South

Gribbin, John – Not Fade Away: The Life and Music of Buddy Holly

Haaf Meredith – Dejad de Lloriquear. Sobre una Generación y sus Problemas Superfluos

Haffner, Sebastian – Defying Hitler: A Memoir

Haffner, Sebastian – The Meaning of Hitler

Harris, Peter – El Enigma Vivaldi

Heywood, Colin – A History of Childhood

Klemperer, Victor – I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-1941

Klosterman, Chuck – Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

Leland, John – Hip: The History

Maranda, Elizabeth – Telegram. A Collection of 27 Issues

Martín Gaite, Carmen – Entre Visillos

du Maurier, Daphne – Rebecca

Mendoza, Eduardo – El Misterio de la Cripta Embrujada

Modell, John – Into One’s Own: From Youth to Adulthood in the United States 1920-1975

Morrissey – Autobiography

Palahniuk, Chuck – Snuff

Pardo Bazán, Emilia – Un Viaje de Novios

Powell, Margaret – Below Stairs

Rowell, Rainbow – Eleanor & Park

Rowell, Rainbow – Fangirl

Rutherfurd, Edward – Paris

Schlink, Bernhard – The Weekend

Shaffer, Mary Ann – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Sharpe, Katherine – Coming of Age on Zoloft. How Antidepressans Cheered Us Up, Brought Us Down, and Changed Who We Are

Smith, Zadie – NW

Steinbeck John – East of Eden

Sternberg, Emma – Breznkönigin

Vonnegut, Kurt – Slapstick or Lonesome No More!

Williams, John – Stoner


2013: What I read

I’ve been keeping track of every book I finish reading for nearly a decade now. I didn’t manage to finish any books during the last 3 months of 2013, which is my longest period so far. Because of this, I was under the false illusion that 2013 had been a really poor year as far as reading goes. Turns out I read nearly 50 books. It doesn’t quite match my record of 67 books in 2012, but it’s not a bad list.

Angelou, Maya – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen – Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Cultural Approach

Atwood, Margaret – The Blind Assassin

Bauerlein, Mark – The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future

Blasco Ibáñez, Vicente – Los Enemigos de la Mujer

Brontë, Charlotte – Jane Eyre

Brontë, Charlotte – Villette

Bryson, Bill – At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Buckley, Christopher – Boomsday

Chamberlain, Lisa – Slackonomics. Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction

Colin, Chris – What Really Happened to the Class of ‘93: Start-ups, Dropouts, and Other Navigations through an Untidy Decade

Coupland, Douglas – Player One

Elmore, Tim – Generation iY

Erdrich, Louise – The Master Butchers Singing Club

Fitzgerald, F. Scott – Cartas a Mi Hija

Fitzgerald, F. Scott – The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald, F. Scott – Flappers and Philosophers

Follett, Ken – The Man from St. Petersburg

Gilbert, Daniel – Stumbling on Happiness

Haidt, Jonathan – The Happiness Hypothesis. Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

Hall, Tarquin – The Case of the Missing Servant

Henig, Robin Marantz – Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?

Hine, Thomas – The Rise an Fall of the American Teenager

Kaminer, Wladimir – Russendisko

Karr, Mary – The Liars’ Club

Koslow, Sally – Slouching Towards Adulthood

Lewis, C. S. – Prince Caspian

Lindo, Elvira – Una Palabra Tuya

Macko, Lia – Midlife Crisis at 30

Matthieu, Ricard – Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill

Mendoza, Eduardo – Sin Noticias de Gurb

Mitchell, Gladys – The Rising of the Moon

Noxon, Christopher – Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-up

Oakes, Kaya – Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture

Oates, Joyce Carol – Blonde

Pamuk, Orhan – Istanbul. Memories and the City

Pichon, Liz – Everything’s Amazing (sort of)

Rimbaud, Arthur – A Season in Hell

Rowling, J. K. – The Casual Vacancy

Rubin, Gretchen – The Happiness Project. Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Sedaris, David – Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

Smith, Patti – Just Kids

Spark, Muriel – The Ballad of Peckham Rye

Vonnegut, Kurt – The Big Trip Up Yonder

Vonnegut, Kurt – 2BR02B


Amazing Bookshops Around the World: Flow Organic Bookshop (Hong Kong)

Flow Organic Bookshop
40 Lyndhurst Terrace
Hong Kong
Flow is a little gem in the heart of Hong Kong. It is a crowded used bookshop located at the top of a narrow staircase just off the Soho escalator. Used books of every shape and size literally overflow from the tiny shop. Packed in boxes and bags around the entrance, the books represent hundreds of readers who have come and gone through transient Hong Kong.
The novels are loosely organized alphabetically on towering shelves in the middle of the shop, and the non-ficiton titles line the walls according to subject. There is a small selection of DVDs and a large collection of travel guides and language books. There are too many books for the shelves to hold, so they are stacked at the ends of the aisles and in every nook and cranny. The inventory contains English titles from Jane Austen to Jodie Picoult to Jeffrey Archer.
Flow is the perfect place to look for an affordable beach read or to discover hidden treasures. It can be difficult to find a specific book amidst the jumble of titles, but it is a great place to browse on a rainy afternoon. You never know what you might discover.
Words and photos by Shannon Young

Amazing Bookshops Around the World: Joot Books (Amsterdam)

Joot Books, Just Out Of Time (Amsterdam)
Hartenstraat 15 1016 BZ
The Netherlands
Phone: +31(0)20-6881783

Joot Books (Amsterdam)
Amsterdam has a lot of nice bookshops. I was slightly overwhelmed and couldn’t stop hyperventilating and fantasising about how big this section was going to be after my trip. Joot Books was one of the most interesting bookshops I’ve come across in a long time. Located in an area known as “De 9 Straatjes” (the nine streets), famous for its small independent shops and cafés, Joot Books fits in perfectly with the spirit of its location, offering something that is definitely special and sets the shop apart from the generic bookshops that can be found all over the place.
Joot Books (Amsterdam)
Spread across three floors, the bookstore specialises in art books, both old and new, with a special focus on modernist and post-war art. As I stepped in, fooled by the small façade, I was surprised by the actual size of the shop and the comprehensive selection it hosts. As well as books, Just Out Of Time Books carry original art prints by post-war artists.
Joot Books (Amsterdam)
Those who fail to be seduced by art (or can’t carry heavy art books back home in their suitcases in fear that Ryanair will charge them a small fortune) will surely find something of interest in the basement, where Joot carry books on an ample selection of topics such as history, literary theory and philosophy, as well as a well-stocked fiction section with books both in English and Dutch.
Joot Books (Amsterdam)
I might be slightly biased because I got a discount on a Hanif Kureishi novel after I explained what the Amazing Bookshops Around the World section was about, but Joot Books fulfils all the criteria that make a bookshop amazing. You can see for yourself by checking out their catalogue on their website.

Amazing bookshops around the world: Powell’s City of Books (Portland, Oregon)

Powell’s City of Books
1005 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97209
click to see their other locationsUnlike most of the bookstores that have been featured on this blog, Powell’s City of Books is not especially cozy and is certainly not small. In fact it occupies three stories of an entire downtown city block, and is generally thought to be among the largest independent book stores in the world. On your first visit, it is a good idea to pick up a map at the entrance; that, along with a clever system of color-coded rooms, should keep you from getting so lost that you never emerge.

Powell’s sells new and used books off the same shelves, and with more than a million titles available you have to have pretty esoteric tastes to not be able to find the English- language title you are looking for. Also, unlike, most major American bookstores, Powell’s makes an effort to carry a modest selection of titles in other major world languages.
But if you don’t want to go downtown, that doesn’t mean you can’t go to Powells. There are several specialized satellite stores as well as a surprisingly well-stocked shop at the airport and a “little Powell’s” — quite a large store, actually — that just happens to be four blocks from my house. w00t! Powell’s even tries to compete online with Amazon, with a comprehensive online book-selling site at Unhappily we’re told that the company’s finances are starting to be eroded by the Kindle.
You might be wondering why Portland, Oregon, only a medium sized city, should be home to such a monumental bookstore. Well, we’re book people (we also have one of the best municipal library systems in the United States). The secret might be in our weather, which is glorious for one half of the year but irredeemably grey, damp, and dark for the other half. The winters are mild but uninviting, and nature all but forces you to curl up with a good book. And if you are like most Portlanders, there’s a good chance that you
bought that good book at Powell’s.
Post written by Michael5000, who could be considered this blog’s official first reader. Visit his blog here.

Cimitero Acattolico di Roma

When Mary Lou and yours truly went to Rome in November (yes, I am still writing about this 2 day trip), visiting the non-catholic cemetery was one of our priorities. Well, Mary-Lou threatened to drag me there whether I wanted or not, but thankfully I am one of those people who are pretentious enough to include graveyards in their to-do list whenever they visit somewhere. 
As its name subtly indicates, the non-catholic cemetery is one where no catholics are buried. Wow, this was a great explanation. As you can imagine, Italy has a Catholic majority, so the cemetery is almost exclusively for foreigners. Among the (many) famous people buried there there were two that, being English majors, we couldn’t really miss. Shelley and Keats. Apparently when Shelley visited he said:

“It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place”

Little did he know that he would end up there after drowning in a storm.  
Goethe’s only son is also buried there
Shelley’s tomb
Gregory Corso

Some Romans mourning

the young English poet is Keats

Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water

Keats’ name doesn’t appear in his grave, but it does on his friend’s

This is more or less like kissing a dead man, right?

Mary-Lou on her way to Egypt

Rome obviously has a lot of world famous sights that shouldn’t be missed, but if you have a morning to spare or you’re a literature lover, this is a morning well spent. You can read more about the cimitero acattolico here

Amazing bookshops around the world: Tranquebar (Copenhagen)

Tranquebar (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Borgergade 14

Tranquebar is a travel bookstore in Copenhagen, with books about pretty much every destination you can think of – Kirgizstan? Macedonia? Rwanda? All there, no problem!
Under the different country sections you don’t only find a couple of different travel guides, but also a bunch of other books related to wherever it is you are heading: novels, travelling accounts, history books, both old and new.
You can also get a cup of coffee and sit down in one of the comfortable chairs in order to browse through a book or two and dream yourself far away. The coffee is fair-trade, and the foundation that owns the place uses their profit to promote cross-cultural understanding.
There is also a little selection of books about Copenhagen and Denmark in English – general guidebooks, architecture guides, fiction – so it’s a good place to get yourself something to read when you are visiting Copenhagen for the first time.
You can find Tranquebar at 55° North and 12° East, or to be more precise at:
Borgergade 14
1300 Copenhagen K
Text and photos by Tschitschi. Thank you so much for sharing this bookshop!

Heidi Burton’s literary Journals

Originally I was going to mention these customised moleskines by Heidi Burton on my weekend links post, but I have decided that I love them so much that they deserve their own post. 
Heidi is an illustrator from the UK who likes Haruki Murakami and lederhosen and hates Comic Sans, clearly a woman after my own heart. I have admired her illustrations, moleskines and super cute egg cups for a long time, but this time she has truly reached me. I mean, take my love for moleskines and combine it with cool art and literature, and not any literature but Murakami quotes. Can’t go wrong with that combination. 
If you like Heidi’s work too make sure you visit and heart her etsy shop, blog, flickr and twitter

2010: What I Read

I hardly ever post book reviews, you know why? Because I am too busy reading them.
Ackroyd, Peter – The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde
Ackroyd, Peter – Venice. Pure City
Alexander, Paul – James Dean. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Appignanesi, Lisa – Mad, Bad and Sad. A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800
Atwood, Margaret – The Handmaid’s Tale
Auster, Paul – The New York Triology
Ballard, J. G. – Empire of the Sun
Barbery, Muriel – The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Bentley, Peter – The PhD Application Handbook
Brampton, Sally – Shoot the Damn Dog
Buten, Howard – When I was Five I Killed Myself
Doyle, Roddy – Chicago Blues
Ellis, Bret Easton – The Informers
Fante, John – Wait Until Spring, Bandini
Freeman, Daniel – Use Your Head: The Inside Track on the Way We Think
García Márquez, Gabriel – 100 Años de Soledad
Gayle, Mike – The to-do List
Goodman, Susan – Children of War
Gottfried, Martin – Arthur Miller. A Life.
Heller, Zoë – Notes on a Scandal

Hornby, Nick – Juliet, Naked

Ishiguro, Kazuo – Never Let Me Go
Ishiguro, Kazuo – Nocturnes
J. Sender, Ramón – La Tesis de Nancy

Kafka, Franz – The Trial
Kafka, Franz – Metamorphosis
Kureishi, Hanif – Something to Tell You
Lessing, Doris – The Good Terrorist
Leroux, Gaston – The Phantom of the Opera
Pendakur, Manjunath – Indian Popular Cinema
Loe, Erlend – Naive. Super
Manegat, Julio – Spanish Show
Mercer, Jeremy – Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs. The Left Bank World of Shakespeare & Co.
Murakami, Haruki – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
Murakami, Haruki – A Wild Sheep Chase
Nemirovsky, Irene – Suite Française
Nicholls, David – One Day
Parsons, Tony – Starting Over
Paxman, Jeremy – The English
Plath, Sylvia – The Bell Jar
Richardson, Nigel – Dog Days in Soho
Robb, Graham – The Discovery of France
Robinson, Jane – Bluestockings. The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education
Rutherfurd, Edward – New York
Sagan, Françoise – Hello Sadness
Sartre, Jean-Paul – The Age of Reason 
Shakespeare, William – The Merchant of Venice
Smith, Betty – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Smith, Zadie – On Beauty
Spencer, Amy – DIY. The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture
Spoto, Donald – Spellbound by Beauty. Alfred Hitchcock and his Leading Ladies
Tearne, Roma – Brixton Beach
Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo – El Señor Llega
Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo – Donde Da la Vuelta el Aire
Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo – La Pascua Triste
Townsend, Sue – The Queen and I

Turner, Graeme – British Cultural Studies. An Introduction
Vonnegut, Kurt – Slaughterhouse Five
Waters, Sarah – Fingersmith
Waters, Sarah – Tipping the Velvet
Williams, Tennessee – A Streetcar Named Desire
Wolpert, Lewis – Malignant Sadness. The Anatomy of Depression
Woodruff, William – Shadows of Glory
Wurtzel, Elizabeth – Prozac Nation
So these are the books I finished in 2010. There are others I started and left because I couldn’t handle them, like Kafka’s castle, and others that I’m still reading, like Portrait of a Lady. Then there are the books that I’ve been reading for years, like Sylvia Plath’s diaries. I read half a book in German and half a book in Italian, which I consider to be a massive achievement.
I read Sartre in Paris, Kafka in Prague and The Merchant of Venice in Venice. Yes, I am that pretentious.
The list contains pieces of crap and amazing works. Things that I had meant to read for years and airport impulse buys. I wonder what a psychologist would say about my reading patterns. I don’t want to review each book, so the ones I particularly enjoyed & recommend are marked in grey.

Amazing Bookshops Around the World: The Book Barn (Niantic, CT)

The Book Barn
41 West Main St.
Niantic, CT 06357
United States
(860) 739-5715

It’s a great feeling to run your hands down rows of books, looking for the one you want to read and take home with you. I sometimes make lists when I go book searching, but mostly I let the books find me. We both agreed that we do judge books by their covers. I did find two books Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and Katherine Hannigan’s Ida B. I had a small list with me, mostly books that other bloggers mentioned or suggested. One of my favorite bloggers Alicia P. always mentions the book Little, Big by John Crowley and I was shocked when I couldn’t find it. If you have ever been to The Book Barn you would be shocked as well if you can’t find a book. They have five large barns filled to the brim with over 350,000 books,t and his doesn’t include all the bins, small carts, and sheds. 
Text and Photos by Amanda from Itchin’ Stitchin’. Check out her blog!

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